IT’S the subject of art historical legend and an acclaimed Hollywood film.

Its image sells more postcards than any other painting at the National Gallery in London, it’s home. Now Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers – one of the world’s most famous and rarely travelled paintings – is in Australia for the first time.

Created in 1888, Sunflowers is the glowing centrepiece of an exhibition that opens to the public at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra on March 5.

Titled Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London, the display is beyond rare – it’s the first time the Trafalgar Square gallery has ever sent a major selection of its artworks overseas.

The show was seen in Japan before coming to Australia, its only other destination. “We are effectively presenting a mini National Gallery,” the London gallery’s director Gabriele Finaldi said.

The list of 61 paintings in the exhibition includes Rembrandt’s Self Portrait at the Age of 34, Vermeer’s A Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, and works by Uccello, Tintoretto, Van Dyck and many others.